Anyone who has dabbled a bit in MMORPGs, or just massively multiplayer online games in general, knows just how many games there are out there. MMOs are often categorized into two groups: the subscription-type games, (or “pay-to-play”), and the free-to-play games. While there is less risk involved in picking a game you may not like in free-to-play titles, choosing among them is still a daunting task.
Now, while free-to-play games are technically free, you are often enough expected to buy (with real cash) things in the games cash-shop that makes playing easier or less tedious, as the game is typically scaled against non-paying players. True, you are not forced to buy into the extra stuff, but the odds are you’re trying to have fun, not give yourself work. So if you want to keep playing, you usually end up paying up anyway.
With that out of the way lets dive right into the top five free MMORPGs. Keep in mind this list is in no particular order (hence, why the games aren’t numbered). Quite simply, they are all great games players should at least try, especially now with holiday breaks and time-off (hopefully) around the corner.
Winner of the “Best International PC game of 2009” at this years German Game Developer Awards. While Runes of Magic only has two races, (Humans and Elves), it’s dual-class system allows for a surprising amount of depth and customization. Each class combination creates a unique elite skill as well, further enriching the game experience.
A 3D, massively multiplayer online adventure game developed by Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). It’s quirky, family-friendly, and cute. Unlike many MMOs, combat is just one facet of the game; the game’s focus is on the many facets of gameplay (of which combat is included). Expect exploration, pet-raising, mini-games, puzzle solving and plenty of social interaction.
Rooted in Chinese myth, Perfect World has a surprising level of polish, and has become increasingly popular. It has four playable races -Humans, Winged Elves, the Untamed, a.k.a. beast-men, and the new aquatic race, the Tideborn- each with two exclusive job classes, and all the fixings of your standard MMORPG (mounts, guilds/ factions, crafting, marriage system, etc.)
The fantasy/steam-punk themed MMOG Atlantica Online marries strategy with turn-based combat for an interesting take on the combat norm. The turn-based battles allows players to strategically plan the movement of up to nine characters in their party (their own avatar, and hired mercenaries). Add that to great artwork and graphics and you have a solid free-to-play MMO.
Originally a pay-to-play game, there is a great level of polish in this title. A little gem of an MMO, Granado Espada has excellent artwork, great visuals, a unique setting, and an interesting take on combat. It gives players the ability to control several characters with the Multiple Character Control system (MCC), giving it, like Atlantica Online, a traditional, console RPG feel.
Remember, these titles are all free-to-play. Don’t like where the game is going? Drop it, and try another game from the list. Remember, it’s all about having fun. Happy playing, and happy holidays!